Seventeen years old and facing nearly thirty years behind bars, Jarrett Adams sought to figure out the why behind his fate. Sustained by his mother and aunts who brought him back from the edge of despair through letters of prayer and encouragement, Adams became obsessed with our legal system in all its damaged glory. After studying how his constitutional rights to effective counsel had been violated, he solicited the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, an organization that exonerates the wrongfully convicted, and won his release after nearly ten years in prison. In Redeeming Justice, Adams draws on his life and the cases of his clients to show the racist tactics used to convict young men of color, the unique challenges facing exonerees once released, and how the lack of equal representation in our courts is a failure not only of empathy but of our collective ability to uncover the truth.
From the first page, Adams enabled me to empathize with the frustration, dismay, and outrage of being trapped in a maze of injustice. His story affected me, as has none other, telling the tragedy of a life broken, if not ruined, by a failed criminal justice system imbued with racism ... In the same vein as Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, Adams’s Redeeming Justice helps shine a light on the inequities rife in our criminal justice system. It is a clarion call to each of us to work hard to reform that system until it is in fact one of justice, and not one of injustice ... Adams’s moving story in Redeeming Justice left me with hope that the injustice he suffered can be leveraged for lasting change and perhaps even systemic transformation.
Early in Redeeming Justice, Jarrett Adams reflects on the power of storytelling and its role in criminal courtrooms across our country: 'Who wins? In prison, I learned it’s not the lawyer who has amassed the most or the ‘best’ evidence. . . . The one who wins, I learned, is the one who tells the best story.' As you read his memoir, you realize that Adams has absolutely mastered that art ... The intimacy of Adams’s writing illustrates the inherent violence of our carceral system in a way that would be impossible without his firsthand experience — and without his willingness to share it.
There is rarely a minute when readers will not want to know what comes next, from prison to lawyering and fighting for not aspirational but equal justice, to how Adams handles each instance of anger, anxiety, guilt, and willpower in and out of prison. A consuming tale of a broken legal system, its trail of ruin, and the fortitude needed to overcome its scarring.